If there’s one thing we’ve learned the hard way, it’s: “when the weather is good, GO!!” Don’t wait til tomorrow to go on the hike. Don’t wait for the weekday to avoid the crowds. Don’t wait til you get your other errands done to do the thing you’ve been wanting to do. Go, go, go. Because if you wait, it’ll start raining, and keep raining, and then you’ll feel like an idiot for not going when it was nice out.
So, when we got to Bar Harbor and saw the weather forecast for our first full day was 75 and sunny, we got our butts out of bed early, grabbed the dog (Acadia is one of the only National Parks that welcomes dogs on the trails), and headed for the park.
The Ocean Path
After stopping by the visitor’s center, we headed for the very popular Ocean Path Trail. This four mile trail (2 miles out, 2 miles back) winds along the rocky coastline of Frenchman Bay and offers one stunningly beautiful view after another.
All along the trail, visitors can head out closer to the water. There’s the aptly named “sand beach” at one end of the trail, some impressive cliffs at the other end, and massive rocks to climb all over in the middle. Photos of the coastline can be deceptive; these rocks are enormous. If you look closely, there are people in the center of this photo:
There are really no disappointing views….
At certain points, the trail leads away from the coastline and into the forest… The trails are well maintained and easy to navigate.
At the far end lies Otter Cliffs, which you can see in the middle of this photo….
When we got to the cliffs, this rock climber was getting set up to repel down the side.
And this guy would NOT stop talking to him….
We’ve run into this type of interaction several times when hooking up our Xterra to the back of our motorhome before driving off. It’s a multi step process in which each of us has a series of things we have to do and checks we need to run to make sure the car is secure, the secondary breaks are engaged, the lights are operating, and the various “oh shit cables” are properly attached. If we screw it up, the Xterra could, at best, crash into the RV, and at worst, go flying off the back of the motorhome, careening into traffic uncontrolled. Which is a super awkward conversation to have with GEICO. You would think most other RVers would appreciate that we need to focus on what we’re doing when we’re engaged in that process, and yet, multiple times, we’ve had other campers wander up to us and start yakking away: “So I see you have Florida tags… what part of Florida are you from?” “The part where shooting a person for interrupting you when you’re attaching your tow car isn’t even a crime….”
Anyway, the Ocean Path is popular for obvious reason, and, as the morning wore on, the crowds continued to swell. Eventually, Dixie was pretty tired and we decided the crowds were getting to be a bit much, so we headed home for lunch. Our plan was to return in the evening to explore the rocks and photograph the area at sunset.
When we arrived though, this is what we found:
We quickly learned that weather at Acadia is NUTS. One minute it’s sunny and the next it’s overcast and foggy, but drive 2 miles in any direction, and it might be sunny again.
Many of the park’s most popular sites are accessed from what’s known as the Park Loop Road, a one way loop that goes about 27 miles around the eastern half of the Park.
Because we were already on the Loop Road, we just kept going until we hit the turn for Cadillac Mountain. Cadillac is the highest point on the east coast and a popular place to watch the sun rise. But being that the sun rises in the summer at 4:30 a.m., that was not something we would be partaking in. However, we also heard it was a good place to watch sunsets. Given that the clouds had thinned a bit as we drove around the Loop Road, we decided to see how the weather was at the top of the mountain. When we arrived, we were blown away by the views. Not only were the skies generally clear up there, but wave after wave of clouds and fog kept rolling across the landscape as the sun set.
We went to another viewing area on the other side of the mountain and watched as the clouds continuously made their way across the water and then dissipated.
As the sun got lower, it looked like a fireball lighting up the clouds.
The next night, we met up with Instagram friends Eryk and Melinda for dinner and drinks in Bar Harbor. We decided to go hiking with them that weekend.
The Beech Mountain Trail
I’d found the Beech Mountain Trail on the NPS website and it looked ideal since it was on the western side of the park, also known as the “quiet side of Acadia” – away from the Park Loop Road. Since we’d be hiking on a weekend, we figured the quiet side would be much less crowded.
The hike, detailed here, includes part of the Valley Trail, the South Ridge Trail, and the western portion of the Beech Mountain Loop, and is interesting because you go through all types of terrain before a nice big payoff at the end. You start in a heavily wooded section…
then you start climbing a lot of natural stone stairs.
Then Eryk decides to wander off the trail to “see what’s over here” and is like: “Holy shit!”, so you walk over and find yourself standing on the very edge of a huge cliff, looking down on lovely Echo Lake…
Which obviously means: “picture time!!”
Then you find some other vista and the way everyone is standing reminds me (and probably no one else) of a scene from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off….”
Then you keep climbing up and up and up and up a bunch of boulders while muttering to each other “This is really rated as a ‘moderate’ hike? Really? Seems kinda ‘strenuous’ to me…”
But then at the very top (where the fire tower is in the prior picture), you turn around and you’re all: “Awwww, Yeah!!!!”
And then you’re all: “Picture Time!!!”
But then the coolest part is, you start heading down the mountain thinking you’ve just seen the best stuff and BAM!! More awesome views….
And one final…. (Group) Picture Time!!!!!
It was a really cool hike and we highly recommend it if you find yourself in Acadia.
By the time we were done, we were starving!! So we headed off to famous Thurston’s Lobster Pound, a supposed “Acadia must-do” when visiting. It’s one of these seafood places right on the water with all the lobster boats nearby and tons of lobster traps on the docks. It’s all very picturesque….
…and very pricey. Of course, at the time we were ordering, we were really hungry and didn’t care, but when we got the bill, it was a solid reminder that tourist stops charge tourist prices and tourist prices are usually ridiculous.
As in, lunch (2 lobster rolls, a shared order of dip, and 2 beers) cost $75.00. Ouch.
So we won’t be doing that again.
Phew… well, that brings us to the end of our fourth full day in Acadia. As you can see, we wasted no time starting our exploration of the park, and we kept the pedal down over the next several days until we encountered a bit of a hiccup last week. More on that soon….
Where we stayed: Narrows Too Campground